DOT releases parking study, announces coalition to tackle long-standing problem

downloadNoting that it was a “milestone borne out of terrible tragedy,” the U.S. Department of Transportation today released a long-awaited survey on the lack of safe parking for truck drivers and announced a national coalition of federal agencies, trucking and safety groups to find solutions.

The tragedy they referred to was the death of trucker Jason Rivenburg, who was killed at an abandoned South Carolina gas station in March 2009 for the $7 in his pocket.

The state-by-state study on available parking was mandated in the “Jason’s Law” (named for Rivenburg) part of MAP-21 legislation.

Jason’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, on hand for the announcement in Washington, D.C., noted the “many killed before and since Jason due to lack of safe truck parking.”

Michael Boeglin, 30, was shot dead in his truck in Detroit in the early morning hours of June 26 last year. His truck was set on fire, presumably to cover up the crime. He was parked overnight some 200 yards away from the facility where he was supposed to drop off a load of steel later that morning.

Another trucker, Truman Lee Smith, was shot more than three years ago during an apparent robbery while waiting to unload at a food warehouse in East St. Louis. He had 21 cents in his pockets when found.

The completion of the parking study comes two years after the above-mentioned Jason’s Law parking study had been requested by Congress. It was supposed to be completed in April 2014, and is just one of many, many highway studies going back before the year 2000.

“We know truck parking has been a longstanding problem in our nation,” said DOT Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez; “we need new approaches to fix it.”

The DOT’s findings in the “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis” show “most states reported having truck parking shortages occurring at all times of the day on every day of the week.”

“We greatly appreciate the light DOT is shining on this important safety issue,” commented the American Trucking Associations in a prepared statement.  “The survey results confirm what ATA has believed for some time — collectively, we need to take real action to insure that every commercial driver has access to a safe place to park in order to obtain rest.

“Real action includes better information for professional drivers, and it requires real money, making truck parking another reason our leaders in Washington must pass a robust, long-term highway bill and for the states to dedicate the resources we need to this critical, yet too often overlooked necessity.”

OOIDA spokesman Norita Taylor said the group was still in the process of reading the lengthy study but “for the most part we like that it’s out and agree that parking is at a shortage and something needs to be done about it.”

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